For the first time since 1989, the Mission Prep boys basketball team advanced to the CIF-Southern Section Division 5AA finals, rallying from an early 10-point deficit to defeat No. 2-seeded Flintridge Prep 60-58 in La Cañada on Friday night.
The third-seeded Royals (23-7) trailed 18-8 after the first quarter but cut the lead to 28-25 at halftime and held a 47-42 lead entering the fourth quarter.
Leading by two with 1:45 left, Connor Woolpert hit two free throws to seal the win for Mission Prep. The Royals made 18 of 23 from the free-throw line, missing their first three attempts.
“That was one of our focal points, we wanted to get to the free-throw line,” Mission Prep coach Terrence Harris said. “It was a very important piece of the puzzle for us tonight.”
Woolpert led the way for Mission Prep, scoring 22 points — 16 in the second half — while hitting 4 of 6 shots from behind the 3-point line and 6 of 7 free throws.
Quinton Adlesh had 13 points, Andy Rowley and Tyler Baty each scored eight and Patrick Laird added five for the Royals.
“I give a lot of credit to Flintridge Prep. They’re a tough team,” Harris said. “The ball bounced our way a little bit today. Both teams played hard. No one deserved to lose.”
Kareem Ismael, a 6-foot-6 inch senior, led the Rebels with 15 points. Robert Cartwright had 13, and Jedrick Eugenio added nine.
“Defensively we wanted to pay attention to their best scorers, (Cartwright) and (Eugenio),” Harris said. “We wanted to make them work.”
Mission Prep will face Buckley in the Division 5AA championship game next week.
“We’re gonna enjoy this tonight and tomorrow,” Harris said. “But come Sunday, it’s time to get back to work.”